Know Your Food, Part II

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 4,690 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—6,500 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life

For Step 2 of this beginner Know Your Food Merit Badge, I went to the library and checked out a copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbra Kingsolver. Usually, I’m not much of a reader if there isn’t any romance involved, but I was surprised at how much Ms. Kingsolver pulled me in. Talk about a page turner. Maybe I’m having a romance with organic food … don’t tell Mr. Wonderful …

My eyes were opened to things in our food that I never even knew they were closed to. I resolved to stop wasting food, stop buying bad-for-me food (if it can even be logically considered food), and keeping things as local as possible. Perseverance, I think, will be the name of the game with this one. It’s easy enough to do it once while grocery shopping, but to keep it up for a lifetime, well, that’s a whole other kettle of fish, isn’t it?

Speaking of fish, I found a package of frozen fish with the brand name “Fresh From the Sea.” And lo and behold, what did I see in small letters? “Farm raised.” Eh? Whaa? I cry shenanigans, girls, yes I do.

I settled down with a slice of homemade bread and local honey for some more reading. It’s a large tome of information and I didn’t want to miss a thing, so I always keep snacks nearby. Blood sugar can dip, causing the letters to jumble right before my eyes, so I like to be prepared. Plus, when you’re reading about food, you’re going to get munchy. It’s like watching the Food Network without any nourishment, a no-no of epic proportions. I’ve nearly short-circuited the television with my drooling before. Not a pretty sight.

The key to changing your eating habits is not to go completely cold turkey.

Mm, turkey…

Sorry. I’m back.

One small change at a time is best. The first few small changes I’ve made this month are:

1. Buying local wheat from my town’s own mill (how cool is that?)

2. Splurging for real maple syrup instead of that nasty, artificially flavored plastic bottle of goo I used to buy

3. Local honey from happy bees (also a boon for my allergies!)

4. Fresh eggs from my chickens

5. Local sheep cheese from my neighbor (Well, from my neighbor’s sheep. Not my neighbor. He’s not a sheep.)

6. Saving up for purchasing a quarter of a cow from a local rancher (it may take me a few months, but my piggy bank is getting full)

7. Buying organic chicken (this means buying it less and savoring it more)

I’m pretty happy with my choices, and I know even more good ones will follow. For instance, my food journal I started when I started this badge is showing me all sorts of things about my eating habits. Like, all those little no-nos I cheat on occasionally aren’t nearly as occasional as I once believed! A sample—or five—at the big supermarket … a sucker from the bank … the leftover Halloween candy sitting in my desk … yeah, now I know why my jeans keep mysteriously shrinking. I thought my closet had magical denim reduction powers, but perhaps not. I threw away what was left of the candy, firmly told the bank teller “no” to Blue Raspberry, and avoided the big supermarket. Turns out, I like the local farmers’ market better anyway! And they give samples too … who knew a slice of summer’s peach or a sliver of fresh basil could be so delish? Put ’em together, and …

well, I’m drooling again.

Out of all my badges, this may be my favorite. And it’s not just cuz I look better in my jeans, either. Although it is nice to zip ’em up without holding my breath, laying on my back, zipping them up, and then walking with giant strides and exaggeration to s-t-r-e-t-c-h them so they aren’t “too” skin-tight. (What a girl won’t do.)


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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I did the MJF Organic kitchen badge 2 years ago and it really helped me get started on making those big changes in my pantry. We are lucky in my town in that our Farmer’s Market is amazing and buying local is both easy and fun. But the real change for me was making that paradigm shift is how I think about what is important for the long haul. Going local and organic meant changing years of easy habits at the grocery stores. Being more intentional and sticking to it, has been the greater challenge. Luckily, MJF has made it much, much easier because of all of the great ideas, inspiration of others and a place to keep getting that support to NOT slip back into bad habits. Thanks Mary Jane! Your efforts and enterprise have placed me on a better, sustainable pathway.

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